This topic is hard to write about: first, because there’s a certain social opprobrium in being against feminism - especially if you’re a Democrat and a liberal. Second, because feminism is (and I would argue always has been) so ingrained in our collective culture that exposing it takes a lot of writing.
I’m going to start with what I consider both the most difficult and most important concept: feminism is not, and has never been, about exterminating patriarchy.
Feminism is about providing women with freedom without accountability; while at the same time attempting to define for men what it means to be a man (which happens to overlap with what it meant to be a man under patriarchy.)
Feminism uses patriarchal ideology to advance its own interests. After all, one of the defining characteristics of patriarchy, when it comes to men, is the demand that men put women’s concerns - and especially their safety - above the concerns of men. Under patriarchy, a man who fails to put woman’s safety and concerns above his own, is not a real man.
Feminism uses that patriarchal idea to ridicule and shame men who become critics of feminism. It’s simple to do: any time men organize themselves: for example, in a “Men’s Rights Movement” (a terrible name, by the way), you simply question their masculinity. “No ‘real man’ would be part of such a group.” It’s a common example. It’s easy to say, and hard to disagree with. Real men do not need help or advocacy, after all. Men take care of their problems themselves. You may say that’s unfair or unequal, or even “patriarchal”, but the idea is so ingrained in our culture it’s useless to fight against. Feminists, in fact, are quickest to use it. Which is an example of how feminism is both (a) not about equality, and (b) not abut eliminating patriarchy. Feminists are very quick to advance patriarchal ideas, when it suits their interests.
Feminism is also not about “equality”. The claim, however, is extraordinarily useful: after all, who could be against “equality”? Feminism is about advancing the interests of women, period. And particularly about advancing the interests of the women who are already among the most privileged people on the planet. (By the way, if anyone reading this sincerely believes feminism is about equality, I’m not questioning your sincerity: I’m just saying you’re wrong.)
The next part is more difficult: it’s an attempt to show the cultural and biological roots of patriarchy, and how it’s intimately related to the reality of male disposability. It’s important because it illuminates why patriarchal roles (at least for men) are so difficult to dispose of, while at the same time showing why feminism has been so successful, despite the ridiculousness of many of their demands and actions, and the fact that feminists themselves can’t agree about, well, anything, really, including what it means to be a feminist.
Humans are thought to have evolved in Africa 5-8 million years ago. Many species of humans are thought to be dead ends, however:
When you think about human physiology, humans are very strange creatures. We combine two evolutionary traits that don’t naturally go together: very large heads, and bipedal locomotion. The result is very difficult pregnancies for human mothers, combined with a very long period of helplessness for human babies.
If you ever watch nature shows on TV, you might have seen a gazelle, for example, or a wildebeest give birth. The process is very quick and apparently painless. Furthermore, the gazelle is on its feet within minutes, and able to follow to the herd within a few minutes more.
Human birth, on the other hand, is extraordinarily painful. It takes many hours, and it’s so difficult (in the absence of modern medicine) it’s not uncommon for human mothers to actually die in the process. Then, once the baby is born, its utterly helpless, and dependent on its mother, for at least a year, and relatively helpless for years after that. Furthermore, in the last months leading up to childbirth, a human mother both requires more resources than others, while simultaneously hampered in her ability to gather the resources she needs. Then she continues in that condition (assuming she’s nursing and caring for her baby) for at least a year after that.
What that means is that a human mother needs to live in a community of some kind, and for there to be at least one person (the stronger, faster, tougher, and higher-ranking the better) who is especially concerned with both protecting her and her child and providing the additional resources she needs to successfully produce a new, living human being.
That many species of humans died out is at least some evidence that they never successfully made the transition from “me-first” to “her-first” in terms of biological and/or cultural imperatives. This transition, however, is necessary for humans (as a species) to survive. If you abandon, or fail to provide for, a human mother, because she’s consuming more than she’s producing, or slowing the group down, or whatever, you may increase your individual chances of survival, but you eliminate the chances that your species will survive.
Furthermore, if you assume that groups of humans competed with each other for resources (such as food, shelter, territory, or water), groups that successfully protected the women, even at the cost of losing men, would eventually and inevitably out-compete groups that failed to do so. The reason is simple: the reproductive rate is determined by the number of women. (As an extreme example: one man and 100 women could produce 100 children in a year. One woman and 100 men could produce 1.) The corollary is the evolutionary cost of losing an individual man is very low. The cost of losing a woman, on the other hand, represents an absolute, irreplaceable decline in reproductive rate of the entire group. If there was something dangerous to do, men did it.
This may be one explanation for the difference in success rates of men and women when it comes to reproducing: women have twice the successful reproductive rate as men. Another way to put it is that men have historically been about twice as likely to die without reproducing, compared women.
Anyway, if you’ve made it through all that, you should see where I’m going: the idea that a man’s role is to protect and provide for women is not new. It is perhaps as old as the human species itself - or, at least, that part of the human species we’re descended from. Patriarchy may have codified, or emphasized, the idea, but the idea itself is not new.
Here are some examples of patriarchy in action:
[li]When the Titanic sank, in 1912, 72.7% of the women survived, vs. 19% of the men. Similarly, among children 15 and younger, 62.6% of the girls survived, vs. 22.5% of the boys. Subsequently, some of the men who did survive, killed themselves, because of the shame of being a man who lived. [/li][li]Similarly, in nearly every war that’s been fought, it’s been men who were sent to do the killing, and the dying. Not women. (During WWI, “white feather girls” used to pin white feathers on men of draft age, that were not in military clothing.) [/li][li]Today, the most dangerous jobs are done mostly by men: fishing, logging, pilots and flight engineers, garbage disposal, roofing, iron and steel workers, construction, farming and ranching, trucking and mining. [/li][li]In fact, 92% of all workplace fatalities happen to men. To put it differently, you’re 11 times more likely to die on the job if you’re a man than if you’re a woman. [/li][li]Women are disproportionately likely to get custody of children after a divorce, and men are disproportionately likely to go to jail for failing to pay child support, even if they don’t have money to pay it. (Remember Walter L. Scott, the man shot 8 times in the back? He was running because he had a warrant for child support.)[/li][li]Ever wonder why news reports say (for example) “100 people died, including 17 women and children”? This, again, is patriarchy: the idea that women’s (and children’s) lives are more valuable than men’s.[/li]
[li]Then there’s the sentencing gap between men and women: [/li][quote]
If you’re a criminal defendant, it may help—a lot—to be a woman. At least, that’s what Prof. Sonja Starr’s research on federal criminal cases suggests. Prof. Starr’s recent paper, “Estimating Gender Disparities in Federal Criminal Cases,” looks closely at a large dataset of federal cases, and reveals some significant findings. After controlling for the arrest offense, criminal history, and other prior characteristics, “men receive 63% longer sentences on average than women do,” and “[w]omen are…twice as likely to avoid incarceration if convicted.” This gender gap is about six times as large as the racial disparity that Prof. Starr found in another recent paper.
From the same source:
You might think an organization dedicated to equality between men and women would be up in arms about such an obvious and well-researched disparity. And you’d be right; unless you were talking about feminists:
None of this is what feminists want to hear about, or talk about, or even acknowledge.
What they prefer to do, is to complain about men taking up too much room on the subway. Or to lionize people like Emma Sulkowicz, who made up a lie, turned an innocent man’s life into a living hell, completed her senior thesis by carrying a mattress around, and is now capitalizing on her success by releasing a sex tape.
Or by promoting the idea that we live in a “rape culture” by getting young women to walk around undressed to draw attention to “slut walks”. (That we live in a “rape culture” is especially silly, given that rape is the second most serious crime there is, after actually killing someone.) That feminists are not particularly concerned about prison rape - rape that happens primarily to men - perhaps goes without saying.
Anyway, I’ve written more than what most people are willing to read, so if you’ve made it this far, congratulations! Please comment.